Max Verstappen believes Red Bull is now playing catch-up at the Hungaroring, identifying Ferrari as comfortably ahead on pace going into Saturday and Sunday.
Ferrari's performance was extremely encouraging in Practice, as the Maranello team led the timing sheets in qualifying and race trim.
Further behind, Red Bull's qualifying simulations were not competitive with the prancing horses, especially on Sergio Perez's side of the garage, who continues to struggle with the RB18.
"Ferrari is clearly ahead. We can't handle them in dry conditions", Verstappen said after Friday Practice, as quoted by journalist Erik van Haren.
"Maybe the weather tomorrow will bring us something. It will be difficult to catch them. We'll see if we can close the gap."
Max Verstappen has a comfortable lead in the championship going into the Hungarian GP and will be aware that consistent podium finishes (alongside a few more victories) should be sufficient in securing a World title.
However, the Dutchman will be looking to optimise every weekend with his usual approach and will be the last person to settle for P2 if there is a chance to take the top step of the podium.
After all, victory in Hungary going into the summer break would further cushion Red Bull and Verstappen's lead in the standings, acting as a safeguard in the event of mechanical failures.
There have also been several events this season where Red Bull optimises their setup over a race weekend, so it would be unsurprising to see the Austrian squad bounce back in qualifying for the race.
When considering the strong possibility of rain on Saturday, Verstappen could also benefit from a better starting position than his immediate rivals and therefore leverage the nature of the Hungaroring to defend.
Still, that hypothetical scenario is far from reality, and Verstappen's priority will be to maximise final practice and prepare himself for qualifying.